Thessaloniki is a city of great struggles on behalf of democracy, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a campaign speech in the northern capital on Wednesday evening, referring also to the labour movement and workers who “flooded the city in the great strike of May ’36.”
In this address ahead of European and local elections on Sunday, Tsipras also mentioned Thessaloniki as the location “where 56 years ago the deep state murdered (politician) Grigoris Lambrakis,” a city “still used as an easy target for every sort of extremists and nationalists” like the extreme Golden Dawn party.
Tonight’s rally is a response that democracy in Thessaloniki is still here, he said, adding that “we must, all of us together, block the way to those forces that don’t hesitate to divide the Greek people.”
In an oblique reference to the Prespes Agreement, the premier said that Thessaloniki and Macedonia in general was used “for an experiment in national divisivemess that must fail, and it will fail with your participation in the struggles and the Sunday ballots.” Divisive tactics aim at returning Greece to the past and its old status quo, he stressed.
“We are struggling for the Greece of the many,” the premier and SYRIZA leader reiterated, and “want to defend the toil and sacrifices of our people.”
Tsipras: We need to safeguard our achievements, prevent a return to the past status quo
The government brought the country out of the loan memoranda with the help of the Greek people, and as the economy grows Greeks will “taste the fruit of their efforts,” said Tsipras.
The relief measures “are not small gifts and bonuses, but a return to the people of their efforts,” Tsipras said, warning that the main opposition New Democracy (ND) wants to benefit the few at the expense of the many. “The IMF is returning, and it speaks Greek in a Bavarian accent like Mr. Weber’s, whom ND supports for Commission president,” Tsipras said, referring to EPP’s candidate Manfred Weber.
“They want to divide us, to separate us into patriots and non-patriots,” he charged, and referred to the Prespes Agreement with North Macedonia, which ND has vehemently opposed. Contrary to claims, he said, the agreement “obliged our neighbours to change their constitution, change their constitutional name, change names in airports and roads, change their books and put an end to claiming our own history.”
Furthermore, the premier said, “now we are the only ones to have an airport named ‘Macedonia’ and a university with the same name, not our neighbours” and that North Macedonia became a strategic partner of Greece, instead of a tool in the hands of third parties in the region.
Calling for unity in order to “safeguard what we achieved with such toil and to prevent the attempt to restore the old status quo,” Tsipras said that “we can now plan for a future that’s brighter than the darkness of bankruptcy” the previous governments “threw the country in.”